Tags: St. Louis County News
July 10, 2013 - This time around, it's hard to miss the signs.
The county Department of Planning set up two signs at 6050 Telegraph Road a few weeks ago announcing that the county Planning Commission will conduct a second hearing on a government-subsidized apartment complex slated for the property at 7 p.m. Monday, July 15, in the County Council Chambers at the Administration Building, 41 S. Central Ave., Clayton.
For this meeting, the notification signs are posted near the front of the property and angled in a V, so that drivers can read the signs from either direction. The new sign placement contrasts with the single sign the county posted last year, a sign few people seem to have noticed set back on the property, in front of the small house that previously occupied the lot.
On June 11, the County Council voted 5-1, with one abstention, to send the issue of the building's zoning back to the planning panel for review.
The resolution stated the council's intention is to initiate "reverting, changing or amending the zoning" of the site back to its original R-2 single-family residential zoning.
Sending a zoning matter back for a rehearing is "uncharted waters" for the Planning Commission, Chairman Wayne Hilzinger, of Oakville, previously told the Call.
"This resolution has the real potential to halt the development in question," 6th District County Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton, said at his June 7 town-hall meeting on the complex.
After the Planning Commission receives the recommendation and report of the county Planning Department, it will vote in early August whether to recommend approval or denial to the council. County Executive Charlie Dooley has said he opposes the rezoning for fear of potential lawsuits, but the council could override a veto with a supermajority of five votes.
Despite the council's resolution and calls by Stenger and Rep. Marsha Haefner, R-Oakville, for the Ohio-based developer, National Church Residences, to stop working, construction of the senior complex is continuing. The nonprofit has gone properly through all legal channels and does not plan to stop construction, spokeswoman Karen Twinem has said.
The $5.1 million, three-story, 45-unit, 41,778-square-foot building has faced opposition from local legislators and residents of Oakville, who contend that the county did not give residents proper notice of rezoning hearings for the building, which is being constructed on a 1.4-acre lot, next to a preschool for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years, the Goddard School.
After no one spoke in opposition to the development, the planning panel voted to recommend the R-8 residential rezoning to the County Council, which passed it unanimously in May 2012.
The complex's size and its location next door to a school are the primary concerns cited by opponents in meetings and on a Facebook group that opposes the development, Oakville Residents Unite. The group has more than 1,700 members.
"I invite you all to come by the Goddard School and physically see it," Goddard School owner Cindy Pyatt said at a May 29 community meeting. "It's just wrong to have a three-story building peering over a playground where we have small children playing."
Some residents of Oakville have contacted Twinem to say they want to live in the building or want their parents to live in the building, and some citizens have voiced their support for the complex and for elderly housing at County Council meetings since the controversy arose.
But hundreds of Oakville residents have attended town-hall meetings to show their opposition to the apartment complex.